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The Great Generation

My grandmother, Bertha Grace Jenner, was an altruist but also a pragmatist who had much to deal with as the men toiled amongst the wheat on the large property, Dunmore. An avid baker, she would feed the swaggies sometimes three or four times a day with her rock cakes and scones. Bertha would never refuse the desperate, hungry and humiliated men who would knock on her door during their search for work, sometimes lasting weeks, months or years: “A hungry man is an angry man” Bertha would tell her 5-year-old daughter Averil. The young mother had less sympathy for the snakes with which she also needed to deal, sometimes on a daily basis. Tiger, brown and black, the large property teemed with each species. “Fetch the gun and shells!”, Bertha would yell to her daughter.  Without hesitation, the five-year-old would grab the 410 single barrel shot gun, so large for her small frame that it would drag in the dirt behind her before reaching her mother. The shells she carried in her other hand. Once reached, Bertha would take hold, load and aim at her target, blowing the reptile into oblivion.